Kris Tamulis trying to find time to enjoy long-awaited LPGA victory
By Greg Hardwig
NAPLES, Fla. – No rest for Kris Tamulis, first-time LPGA Tour winner or not.
Hours after winning the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in Prattville, Alabama, on Sunday, the Naples High School graduate boarded a charter to Michigan. She got in at 1:00 a.m. Monday, then was ready to play in a pro-am at 7:30 a.m.
After that, the 34-year-old drove to her parents' Michigan home to surprise them, getting there at 10:30 p.m.
"That was really nice," Tamulis said Wednesday in the midst of driving home to Florida.
But the whirlwind caught up with her when she awoke.
"It took me three tries before I could figure out where I was," she said with a chuckle. "I cannot wait to get to home to Florida and unpack my stuff, and finally finish getting back to everybody's emails and tweets and texts, and just kind of relax."
Tamulis, who will leave this weekend for France to play in next week's Evian Championship, will be unpacking the red glass trophy a few days after not seeing it. She had no qualms passing that along to her husband, Jeremy Maddox (the two were married in April), to take home to Florida on Sunday.
"It's huge," she said of the trophy. "It's very cumbersome and it's glass. It's probably in the best interests of mine and the tournament's that it just go home with him."
Tamulis came from behind in the final round, playing a total of 29 holes on Sunday in the weather-affected tournament. She started the last round tied for fourth, but fired a 65 with birdies on four of her six holes and sticking an iron shot close for another on the par-5 17th. Then she waited for the final groups to come in. Yani Tseng and Austin Ernst both had birdie tries at the last, but neither fell.
And Tamulis was a champion for the first time, in her 186th LPGA Tour and after 11 years.
"When I played well in the last few events and I got in the top five, I got so many texts and tweets and emails and everything," she said. "Now it's like 50-fold that. I can't wait to just have a second to kind of regroup, and I guess enjoy it. Everybody's been sending me so many nice messages. I'm just flattered that people keep up and say such nice things. That really means a lot to me and my family."
As far as Tamulis is concerned, that family also includes her caddie, Thomas "Motion" Frank, who believed in her when others didn't.
"Everybody said 'She can't win. She can't win,'" Frank told reporters Sunday. "And I said, 'Kris, don't let them say that. Just keep going up because I know finally you're going to get it done.' She got it done."
In a sense, Tamulis' victory became a way to get out Motion's story, the most wrenching part of which was an April fire, caused by lightning, that destroyed his Houston home. A friend started a GoFundMe fundraising account, and Frank is in the process of trying to get the home rebuilt.
"That's been amazing," Tamulis said of the outpouring of support for her caddie. "Everybody on the LPGA has a very high opinion of 'Motion' and knows what a great guy he is. What a great person. He has a big heart. He is very professional. He's very kind. And he puts up with me. We have a good time out there together."
Whatever happens the rest of the year, Tamulis will have a good time, with "Motion," at the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club from Nov. 17-22. After coming up achingly short of qualifying for the field last year, now Tamulis can plan 2 1/2 months beforehand to play in it. Sunday's win vaulted her to 34th, safely in the needed top 72 with rest of the season to go.
"I can't think of anything greater than playing in such a big event in my hometown," she said. "It's awesome to play in (the LPGA Tour event in) Michigan during the summer. I am just so grateful for everybody's support there. I know it's going to be even greater here, where I went to elementary school, and middle school and high school. My parents are there and I represent a course (Grey Oaks) there."
Not that Tamulis is one for making large purchases, but what "Motion" has been through and how he carries himself has given her added perspective. So don't look for her to take that $195,000 first-place check and go nuts.
Tamulis, who starred at Florida State, has been a survivor on the tour. She's had just a handful of top-10s in her career, but she's always pretty much controlled her own schedule, winning more than enough each year to keep her card and keep playing.
"When I turned pro, my dad said 'I'll give you this amount of money to go and start your career,'" she said. "I never needed it. I've always made enough money to cover my expenses. Then I made a little bit more and I was able to buy a house. And I made a little bit more and I was able to get a nicer car."
Tamulis gets a Rolex watch for being a winner. She'll cherish it, but said she'll probably still wear her Casio plastic one that she bought on Amazon.
"I don't have extravagant things," Tamulis said. "I love to shop at T.J. Maxx or Marshalls. ... I'm sure maybe down the line there'll be something."
Then, Tamulis paused and talked a little more about her caddie and what he's been through.
"Material things are just not that important," she said. "I mean, I feel like I have everything."
And that now includes being Kris Tamulis, LPGA champion.
This article was written by Greg Hardwig from Naples Daily News, Fla. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.